The visiting Arizona Coyotes will try to build on their blue-collar identity when they face the St. Louis Blues again Monday night.
After losing to the Blues 4-3 at Enterprise Center this past Tuesday, the Coyotes won 4-3 there on Thursday and 3-1 on Saturday.
“Tonight, I thought structure-wise, that the guys did a really good job,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said after the latter game. “We had some key goals, key moments. The penalty kill was good, again. You’ve got to win those games; you’ve got to grind them out. Sometimes they look ugly, and sometimes ugly’s great.”
The Coyotes are playing their fourth straight game in St. Louis due to COVID-19 postponements elsewhere. They have won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, the Blues suffered consecutive losses for the first time. They will get ample time to improve against the Coyotes since they will face them again next Saturday and Monday in Arizona.
“I do believe that we’re better, and you see these guys again on Monday, and then again,” Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “And I think we can beat them. We have to take it one game at a time, even break it down more to one period at a time. We can prove we’re a better team than them.”
The Coyotes mustered just 19 shots Saturday, but they scored twice on the power play and killed off all four penalties. They are 24-for-25 killing penalties on the road.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper (3-5-1, 2.46 goals-against average, .909 save percentage) made 24 saves Saturday after Antti Raanta (2-0-0, 3.00, .922) starred Thursday.
“The guys did such a good job in front of me,” Kuemper said. “The power play was working, the penalty kill was working. It was everything that we wanted. It was a huge win. I felt like we didn’t give up a whole lot. When we play like that, it gives us a chance every night. That’s what we’ve got to do moving forward here.”
While the Coyotes have played great short-handed, the Blues have struggled on the power play — converting just four of their 40 opportunities this season.
The team is still adapting with newcomer Torey Krug quarterbacking the first unit and newcomer Mike Hoffman playing the half wall on the second unit.
“The power play has got to contribute — they’re getting looks, too, but it’s a hair off here and there,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “And that makes the difference. “I just think once it doesn’t work, you’re fighting it.
“You know Krug hasn’t been with these guys. I still think they’re working through some chemistry issues a little bit. It’s just not quite clean as it should be. When you move the puck quick, that’s where you really capitalize on the power play.”
The Blues are also dealing with the loss of forward Robert Thomas, who suffered an upper-body injury Saturday. They were already missing Tyler Bozak (upper-body injury) and Zach Sanford (illness) from their forward lines.
Jordan Binnington (6-2-1, 2.63, .915) will likely start in goal Monday since backup Ville Husso got the call Saturday.
–Field Level Media